Literary Analysis Paper – The Tradegy in Love
Thesis Statement: Love is not just the mere exchange of sweet words. It often has flaws like deception, hypocrisy and love-turned-to-hatred which also become the elements that make love a tragedy.
Love is often exemplified by candlelit dinners, bouquets of roses, heart-shaped chocolates and kisses. We often get the impression that these are the only things that comprise the state of being in love. But with the images of roses and chocolates, the reality of love is compromised. There is a much bigger world than the mere exchange of passionate looks and sweet words. There is the harsh reality that even in love, there is tragedy.
In “The Chaser” by John Collier, the main character, Alan Austen, searched desperately for a painless solution to his dilemma. But Alan’s love for Diana is shallow. Alan’s decision to go to the potion-maker is like forcing Diana to love him. Love, in its truest sense, must be something borne out of deep, mutual feelings between two people. It is something shared. However, this is not the case in this story. Alan’s desperate attempt is not noble in any sense; what he is doing is merely luring Diana into his trap. Only, Diana is unaware that she is being pushed into this relationship. “She is already [everything to me]. Only she doesn’t care about it” (par. 28). Alan is deceiving not only Diana but himself as well. He is making himself believe that she will actually fall for him. But in reality, the only thing Diana will be falling for is his trap. You want love to come naturally. There is nothing like the feeling of being in love and being loved in return. Alan wants to be loved by Diana in return very, very badly so he thinks that the love potion is the answer to his prayers.
Alan is simply chasing after his dream of being with Diana and there is nothing wrong with that. But the manner of his pursuit is questionable. Certainly, there is nothing wrong about hoping for what is desired. However, in this case, hope was provided for by a potion, a supernatural substance supposedly capable of making one fall madly in love. Magic realism comes into play through this potion. A magical element unobtrusively inserted into everyday living is magic realism. In stories like Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the famous television series, Bewitched, wherein magic was used to craft relationships, the love that took place was clearly superficial. This method of making people fall in love is tragic because it does not give the other party the freedom to choose.
The effects of the potions the old man creates are said to be permanent. “The effects are permanent, and extend far beyond the mere casual impulse. But they include it. Oh, yes they include it. Bountifully, insistently. Everlastingly” (par. 19). The insistent effects of the potion is explained in the 23rd paragraph. “‘For indifference,’ said the old man, ‘they substitute devotion. For scorn, adoration… -and however gay and giddy she is, she will change altogether. She will want nothing but solitude and you.’” Diana will want to know everything that about Alan. She will want to be involved in everything he does. She will very carefully look after Alan. “If you are an hour late. She will be terrified. She will think that you are killed” (par. 33). This explains part of the insistent effects of the potion. The other part is elucidated by its everlasting effects, which will therefore result to the need of the glove-cleaner. The effects of the love potion were laid out for him by the old man and yet he heeded none of it. All that Alan needed to do was to comprehend the old man’s warnings. But the effects, Diana’s extreme curiosity, her over protectiveness, her paranoia, her actual makeover, overwhelmed Alan which made him turn a deaf ear to the advice. Anyone in the right state of mind would not go as far as Alan just to be loved in return. Alan is too one-dimensional to realize that. His referral to the potion as wonderful shows how narrow his mind is as depicted in the 38th paragraph. “‘And how much,’ said Alan, ‘is this wonderful mixture?’” How could anyone be this shallow and still think that this is such a “wonderful mixture?” But Alan was obviously just holding on to the string of hope he had, ignorant of the implications. This way of loving is tragic because it is not real. It could even be said that he does not really love Diana and that he only is in love with himself because of a lack of sincerity. Artificial is what it is. Artificial love is indeed a tragedy.
In Guy de Maupassant’s “The Jewels”, the theme of love is slightly different.
The main protagonist, M. Lantin gave the impression that he was in a happy marriage. He probably was. His state drastically changes only after his wife has gone. “He contracted several debts and chased after money in the manner of men reduced in the world” (par. 18). He finds out about the source of the jewels and finds it difficult to accept the sad truth. He then realizes that not only were the jewels’ identity suspicious, but even his wife’s true identity becomes questionable.
M. Lantin comes across the idea of deception very gradually. This, though inexplicit, was first exhibited when he found out about the jewels’ identity while going around town “without a clear idea in his head” (par. 40). He could not explain how his wife was able to get a hold of such precious objects so he assumes that it is a gift. “A gift from whom? Why?” (par. 40). This act of inward questioning shows that he is slowly in the process of accepting the truth of his wife’s adultery.
His next affirmation of his wife’s infidelity was when he returned to the jeweler after he finally decided to sell the jewels. He was immediately attended to when he entered but he caught the assistants looking sideways at him “and laughter in their eyes and on their lips” (par. 49). Their laughter was not that of amusement but of early knowledge of his wife’s charade. His apprehension, probably brought by the situation, caused the assistants to seem to forget their manners. “One of the assistants went out to laugh at his ease; another blew his nose with vigor” (par. 55).
He, on the other hand, could have also been a carrier of deception. He was the envy of most men when he married her. “Her simple beauty had the charm of an angelic modesty, and the faint smile which never left her lips seemed a reflection of her heart” (par. 2) blinded M. Lantin. He carried her around like a trophy. True love? Probably not. When his wife died, naturally, he mourned, he wept, and he grieved. But it is possible that he mourned not for the wife but for the comfort of his life with her. He lamented for his old lifestyle, which had died the moment his wife took her last breath. M. Lantin greatly depended on his wife. This is shown in the 17th paragraph when it mentioned how difficult life was for him. “His salary, which in his wife’s hands was sufficient for all the household needs, was now inadequate for him alone” (par. 17). Had he been genuinely in love with her, he would have paid more attention to her and how she handled things around the house. Possibly, too, he was more in love with the idea of perfection and having everything, than being in love with his wife. The hypocrisy of his love is what makes him a carrier of deception.
The story of “The Jewels” could also be viewed as a tragedy within a tragedy. What M. Lantin thought unreal was actually real and what he saw as real was in reality, a fake. The tragedy of this epiphany within the tragedy of him being in love with perfection makes one think twice about love.
The concepts of deception revealed merely suggest another tragedy. True, M. Lantin loved his wife. Maybe not deep enough for them to stay together or for him to hang on even after her death, but it was love. He accepted her for whom she was and how she especially with the “imitation” jewels. But again, there are tragedies in love. In this one, it was the deception of both parties involved.
In Nick Joaquin’s “May Day Eve”, Agueda and Badoy’s bitter marriage all began on a May night.
Agueda and Badoy are two, completely diverse people. Agueda is a girl ahead of her time. She is bold and liberated unlike most girls her age. She stands out from the broad spectrum of conformists of her era. “‘But what nonsense!’ cried Agueda. ‘This is the year 1847. There are no devils any more!’ Nevertheless, she had turned pale. ‘But where could I go, huh? Yes, I know! Down to the sala. It has that big mirror and no one is there now’” (par. 23).
Badoy, who at first comes off as a stereotypical, forceful man intent on proving his machismo, is more of a promiscuous fellow who is used to getting his way. This is shown in how he initially treats Agueda. “‘Let me pass!’ she cried again in a voice of fury, but he grasped her by her wrist. ‘No,’ he smiled. ‘Not until we have danced’” (par. 59-60). Agueda resisted his advances and he swore to get her back for it. “Oh, he would have his revenge he would make her pay, that little harlot! She should suffer for this, he thought greedily, licking his bleeding knuckles”(par. 79).
But despite his detestations, he was surreptitiously in love with her. “But–Judas!–what eyes she had! And what a pretty color she turned when angry!… and suddenly realized that he had fallen madly in love with her. He ached intensely to see her again–at once!–to touch her hand and her hair;… It was May, it was summer, and he was young—young!—and deliriously in love”(par. 79-80).
The tragedy is not that. The tragedy is when Badoy’s heart forgets how much he felt for Agueda. The tragedy is how both were not careful enough to mend their drifting marriage.
“But alas, the heart forgets; the heart is distracted, and May-time passes; summer ends; the storms break over the hot-ripe orchards and the heart grows old; while the hours, the days, the months and the years pile up and pile uptill the mind becomes too crowded, too confused: dust gathers in it; cobwebs multiply; the walls darken and fall into ruin and decay; the memory perishes…” (par. 81).
Agueda described the devil she saw to her daughter using characteristics her own husband, Badoy had. “Well, let me see… He had curly hair and a scar on his cheek–” (par. 43). As with Badoy, he illustrated his witch to his grandson with features that were of his wife’s. This just goes to show how each of them saw their marriage. Both Badoy and Agueda perceived their marriage to be a taste of hell. Instead of admitting that they saw their spouses in the mirror, they claimed that it was the witch/devil they saw for that was probably how each of them was to each other during their life together. Perhaps this was because the premise of their love was based only on raging passion—and nothing more. Passion, after all, is evanescent and transitory. Love cannot be based on passion alone.
Their contrasting attributes perhaps were what brought them together. But it could also have been the root of the bitterness that concluded their time together. Badoy harked back to the time “of the girl who had flamed so vividly in a mirror one wild May Day midnight, long, long ago” (par. 108) and refreshed his memory of “how she had bitten his hand an fled” (par. 109) which “surprised his heart in the instant of falling in love” with Agueda (par. 109). But it has been a while and time has healed the wounds of their relationship. The old love that was blinded by hatred which brought pain has now resurfaced. The tragedy is that it is too late. It is good that Badoy can live in the sweet past he and Agueda had but it is sad that Agueda never found out how much she really meant to Badoy all this time. She died not knowing that what she and Badoy had was real. The love did not go away. It was just covered up in the dust of time.
Fairy tales assure us that tragedy does not exist and love conquers all odds. A scullery maid marries a prince, a beautiful maiden tames the heart of a beast, and in the end, everyone lives happily ever after. Love, however, comes in different forms. These stories, The Chaser, The Jewels and May Day Eve, show a different perspective from the simplistic storybook love that we are exposed to as children. Through these stories, our outlook on love is deepened. Love is not just the mere exchange of passionate looks and sweet words, it often has flaws like deception, hypocrisy and transformations to hatred which also become elements that make love a tragedy.
Collier, John. “The Chaser.” Enjoying Fiction: A Textbook and Anthology. Ed. Jonathan Chua. Ateneo de Manila University: Office of Research and Publication, 2005. 16-18.
De Maupassant, Guy. “The Jewels.” Enjoying Fiction: A Textbook and Anthology. Ed. Jonathan Chua. Ateneo de Manila University: Office of Research and Publication, 2005. 32-37.
Joaquin, Nick. “May Day Eve.” Enjoying Fiction: A Textbook and Anthology. Ed. Jonathan Chua. Ateneo de Manila University: Office of Research and Publication, 2005. 99-107.
The Tragedy in Love
II. The Chaser
A. Artificial Love
B. Discussion of the tragedy
1. Alan’s shallow affection for Diana
2. the potion as a tool for love
3. the warnings of the old man
C. Mini Conclusion
III. The Jewels
B. Discussion of the tragedy
1. concepts of deception
a. jewels’ true identity
b. M. Lantin’s epiphany
c. M. Lantin as an agent of deception
C. Mini Conclusion
IV. May Day Eve
A. Love turned to hatred
B. Discussion of the tragedy
1. their love for each other
2. love blinded by hatred
3. bitterness of regret
C. Mini Conclusion
A. Artificial Love
C. Love turned to hatred